Menu
header photo

Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

People of Peace (2 Peter 3:8-15)

    Sometimes I wonder what early Christians would think about the current world, but in a very specific way. Let me explain…
    Just about 60 or 70 years after Jesus ascended into heaven, the church began to wonder, “Where is Jesus? When will He return? Why hasn’t He come back yet? Shouldn’t He have brought about God’s Kingdom on earth already? Why does He delay?
    They had to be reassured in the very passage we’re going to read this morning that He would in fact return, though it might not be according to their time table.
    Now, 2,000 years later, we’re still waiting. I wonder, if they could see us now, if they could see that the Church is still waiting for Her Bridegroom to come, what they would think. They thought 70 years was a long time to wait?
    But, we still wait. We wait, and we prepare. The early Christians who received the letter we’ll look at today, asked another question of Peter as well, and his answer is what we’ll look at this morning. They asked him, “What are we supposed to do while we wait?”
    Let’s look at 2 Peter 3:8-15 this morning. It has little to do with shepherds and kings, angels and announcements, gloria sung out loud, or any other Christmas images we might have, but it is the perfect scripture for the time we find ourselves in now: the in-between. In-between the first coming of Jesus as a tiny baby and the second coming of Jesus as the conquering king. And really, the in-between is what Advent is all about.
    “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be discovered. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,”
    This is a passage of great promise and hope that has a lot of purpose behind it. It does a few things for those who read it, first century Christians and even us today. It is not meant to be a passage of FEAR, which is your first bulletin blank today. Rather, it gives us comfort and peace; it brings a promise; and it tells us how to live as we wait.
    This part of Peter’s letter was meant to provide comfort and peace to those who read it, those who thought God had forgotten His promise. Peter wrote, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”
    They were concerned about whether Christ was going to return at all, but Peter assured them that God does not work on our time-line. What might seem like an age to them and to us, is merely just a moment for God, and so we cannot expect that God will work as fast as we think He should. After all, if He always acted as we expected Him to do, He wouldn’t be God.
    The slowness of God is not because He has forgotten His promise, or because He is not trustworthy in His Word, but because He is patient with us, all of us, not just those who already love Him. He is patient with all of humanity, even when they mock Him, even when they refuse to believe He exists, even when they act in every way against Him, He is patient with us. Why? Because His desire is that not one single one of us would die eternally because of our sins, but to repent and be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ.
    We should find comfort in knowing that His promises still hold true, and find comfort in knowing that while we struggle in this life, and those struggles seem to last a long time, God sees the big picture, and He is working in that.
    We have peace in knowing that God has not forgotten. We have peace in knowing that He is trying to bring about the salvation of those in our lives who we are tempted to think of as “irredeemable”. Peace, knowing that He is coming again.
    Peter continues, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be discovered. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”
    These verses are where we often get the sense of judgment and therefore fear, but really, these verses are talking about the comfort and peace we can have in the knowledge that God sees everything, and that one day, He will refine the world, like the refiners fire mentioned in other scriptures. And what happens in that refining of the world is that what is bad will be burned up, while what is good, what is fro Him and of Him, will remain. This isn’t so much about destruction, but about judgment. This is about the unveiling of everything, all things that are hidden will be revealed. Now, this should bring us peace as long as we are in Him.
    These verses though, also bring a PROMISE, which is your next bulletin blank. The promise is two-fold. We have the promise that Christ has already brought the kingdom of God to earth through His birth. Remember when Jesus taught His disciples to pray and He told them to pray for the kingdom of God to come? That wasn’t future tense, that was present tense.
    In other words, by Christ having come when He did, 2,000 years ago, that brought the kingdom of God to earth. What Jesus was trying to get the disciples to realize, was that they weren’t supposed to just be waiting around for end times, they were to go out and show God’s kingdom to others. Heal the blind, free the captive, love others, share hope, peace, joy. All of those are kingdom things, the work of God. Jesus was trying to get the disciples to understand that because of Him, the kingdom of God is here, now, already!
    That promise should embolden believers. It should embolden us to be victorious over sin. It should embolden us to preach the gospel. It should embolden us to love fiercely, because God’s kingdom is here, now. We have the Spirit helping us here, now.
    The other part of that promise though, is that the fullness of the kingdom of God has not yet been fully seen on earth and won’t be seen on earth until Christ’s return. His incarnation, His first coming as a baby in a manger, was the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth, but it is not the completion. We see that, there is still sin in our world, still chaos, still disease, still slavery, still injustice, still war, still hatred. But, the promise is that someday, though we might not know when, someday the fullness of the kingdom will be completed.
    I want to remind you of the story of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. Right before Stephen is stoned, he says he can see heaven open up and he can see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. This is a moment we have in time when the kingdom of God was breaking through on earth. Yet, the people there refuse to see what was happening and Stephen was stoned anyway.
    Stephen prayed a prayer of forgiveness for them, another moment when the kingdom of God was here on earth, and one man who was there at Stephen’s stoning, giving the thumbs up, had the seeds of the kingdom planted in his heart because of what Stephen prayed. That man was Paul.
    See, as Christians, we live in the in-between. We live in-between the incarnation of Christ, and the return of Christ; between the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth and the completion of the kingdom of God on earth.
    So, Peter finally addresses what we’re to do in the waiting. While we’re in the in-between, how do we live? “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,”
    First, live in holy CONDUCT and godliness. That’s your next bulletin blank. Conduct yourself in holiness and godliness. That mostly means that we walk with the Lord, step in step with Him every day, that we seek Him and His righteousness first, and allow Him to cleanse us, to purify us. This is the first and foremost thing we should devote ourselves to while we wait for Christ’s return. We should devote ourselves to growing in the Lord.
    Then, Peter says that we should be found spotless and blameless by Him. That only happens through a relationship with the Father through Christ, by Him covering us in His righteousness. Being found spotless and blameless is the fruit of walking with Him and allowing Him to change us. This is the process of become like Christ, and it is the work of the Spirit in us.
    Peter tells us to be at PEACE. Peace, knowing that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Throughout Scripture there is the idea that while it will not be realized until Christ’s return, God’s people should work toward peace. Ultimately, there will be peace, wholeness, all will be complete, and part of our job in the waiting is to be people of peace. To declare the message of Christmas which is peace on earth.
    Peter’s message here is the process of holiness, really. First, establish a relationship with the Lord through Jesus. Then, through walking with Him, allow Him to change you. This process helps us have victory over sin, and when we have victory over sin, we are able to live in peace by loving God and loving others.
    Peter’s message isn’t one of passivity. Peace is never passive. Being people of peace is never passive. It is a choice to live in the promises of God, and it is a choice to act as one bringing the kingdom of God here and now, just as the disciples were taught to pray and do. We are to “make every effort” to be at peace, which tells us that this is something to work toward, even if we never accomplish it completely.
    Finally, Peter says that we are to regard His patience as salvation. That means that as we wait, there are more opportunities for all to come to salvation. This is part of us being people of peace, and the next step in Peter’s process. After we’ve come to a relationship with Jesus, after He beings the work of changing us, after we start the work of bringing His kingdom of peace, then we must share with others the promise of peace, the promise of freedom from sin. How will they hear the Word of God if it is not preached?
    We look ahead to Christ’s return in hope, but we do not wait passively. We have work to do to bring peace. We must live as people of God’s kingdom now. We must speak words of radical lives. We may be persecuted, but we must call others to repentance. We must be patient with others as God is patient with us, as He is patient with them, not wanting them to perish. We must walk in step with the Spirit, seeking to do good.
    This passage is about the only way to experience true peace, and that’s through Jesus Christ. It is to give us a promise, hope, and comfort in times when we don’t feel that the kingdom of God is here now, even though it is. And it is about sharing all that we have in Him with those around us, so they too can have the assurance that someday, they will be made whole and complete and be a part of the kingdom of God.

Go Back

Comment

Blog Search

Comments

There are currently no blog comments.